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Best Compound Exercises for Beginner Lifters

 

Compound lifts are the most comprehensive exercises you can incorporate into your workout. Before we get into the best compound movements out there, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know to get started.

If you’re looking to find the best compound exercises for beginners – look no further. We’ve got it all.

BUT FIRST, WHAT ARE COMPOUND EXERCISES?

Compound lifts are exercises that work several muscle groups in one movement. For example, deadlifts can help you develop strength in the glutes, lower back, hamstrings and upper back. An easier way to explain how compound lifts work is to compare them to isolation exercises.

  • Compound exercises need more than one muscle group to work together in order to complete the movement. This recreates the way your body moves naturally.
  • Isolation exercises, however, pretty much train one specific muscle group. For example, leg curls are an isolation exercise which targets the hamstring muscles.

If you’re looking for one of the best compound exercises to add into your workout, try front squats. These will engage your entire lower body and core, as well as your upper body in order to fulfil the entire movement.

Whereas if you’re looking to isolate a specific muscle, you’d be looking at an exercise such as bicep curls.

Where possible, a focus on compound lifts will utilise multiple muscle groups.

Also Read: Your Ultimate Guide to HIIT Training

Many of us don’t pay attention to everyday tasks, such as taking out the trash, carrying the kids about or picking up something heavy at the store – yet these movements tend to use multiple groups.

This is exactly what happens when you add our best compound movements into your workout. Plus, when you’re making multiple muscle groups work, you’re maximising your time in the gym! Why focus on one muscle when compound lifts can workout several?

Ready for the best compound exercises for beginners? Let’s do it.

OUR FAVOURITE 5 COMPOUND EXERCISES FOR BEGINNERS (BODYWEIGHT)

One of the most simple exercises you can do – the push up. This compound exercise allows you to use your own bodyweight and train several muscles at the same time.

What muscles are trained with push ups?

  • Abs
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Pectoral

In case you’re struggling with your technique, we’ve dug deep to find the best examples around for the ultimate push up.

For an easier variation, try knee push ups. But if you’re after a tougher approach, give the decline push up a try.

Up second is the bodyweight squat. This compound exercise is great for beginners and perfect for building a foundation of strength. They also help to build proper mobility, supporting the potential for extending this exercise with barbells!

What muscles are trained with the squat?

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Core muscles
  • Hamstrings

For an easier variation, give the assisted bodyweight squat a try.

If you’re looking for something a little tougher, try a goblet squat.

Third, in our list is the inverted bodyweight row. These are one of the best compound exercises for beginners, especially if you’re not quite mastering chin ups or pull ups just yet. These are an amazing exercise for building up that pull up muscle strength.

What muscles does the inverted row train?

  • Your grip
  • Biceps
  • All of your back muscles (Rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi)
  • Forearm muscles (Ventral, dorsal)

For a slightly easier variation, try the incline inverted row. To make things a little harder, try elevating your feet.

In number four we’ve got the pull up and chin up. These signature compound lifts should always be a part of your workout regime! And once you’re comfortable supporting your bodyweight above the bar, there are many more avenues to be discovered.

What muscles do pull ups train?

  • Your entire back (Rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi)
  • Abs
  • Latissimus dorsi (Lats)
  • Trapezius (Traps)
  • Biceps
  • Your grip

Unsure how to master the pull up? We’ve got your back.

If you need a little help, to begin with, try a negative pull up. But if you’re well-acquainted with pull ups, try adding a little weight.

The fifth and final instalment in our top compound exercises is the bodyweight dip.

These are one of the best compound exercises as you begin to gain strength. Use push ups to build up that strength before increasing the difficulty with dips.

What muscles do dips train?

  • Abs
  • Deltoids
  • Pectoral
  • Rhomboid (back muscles)
  • Triceps

For an easier variation, try assisted dips.

As you start to build up your strength with these compound exercises for beginners, you may wish to make this exercise a little more difficult! For a tougher variation, try adding weight to your dips.

These top compound exercises with just your bodyweight will help you push your training sessions further. So let’s move onto barbells!

OUR TOP 6 COMPOUND EXERCISES FOR BEGINNERS (WITH BARBELL)

By now, you’ll be pretty familiar with moving your own bodyweight, so it’s time to add barbells into the mix.

To increase the difficulty of these compound lifts, add a little extra weight. Provided you do it safely, you can almost always add more weight.

We’re going to start the list again and kick things off with the overhead press. We’re going to give it to you plain and simple: Press a barbell above your head.

What muscles are trained with the overhead press?

  • Abs
  • Deltoids
  • Pectoral
  • Triceps
  • Rhomboid (back muscles)

In order to lift the barbell above your head, plenty of muscles need to be engaged. This includes your chest, arms and shoulders. To really feel the effects, ensure you’re flexing and bracing your core.

Second, in our top compound exercise is the barbell deadlift.

It’s pretty straight forward really, lift the weight off the ground. Here’s how to best perform this compound lift:

What muscles are trained with the barbell deadlift?

  • Hamstrings
  • Erectors (spinal muscle)
  • Glutes
  • Pretty much every other muscle

Third: The barbell Romanian deadlift. Although it may sound a little confusing, it’s actually pretty simple. Think of this compound lift as the top half of a typical deadlift.

But to better explain it, we’ve dug out the below on how to perform this move:

What muscles are trained with Romanian deadlift?

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Erectors (spinal muscle)
  • Rhomboid (back muscles)

Fourth in our list is the barbell squat. Since you will have already gotten pretty familiar with squats in the first round of our top compound exercises, now it’s time to add a barbel on the back of your shoulders!

What muscles are trained with the barbell squat?

  • Core muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Quads

Next up, the barbell bench press. Simply lie on a bench, lower the barbell until it’s nearly touching your chest. Pause for a moment and press it up again. Then repeat!

What muscles are trained with the bench press? 

  • Abs
  • Triceps
  • Pectoral
  • Rhomboid (back muscles)
  • Deltoids
  • Pretty much every other upper body muscle

As we near the end of our best compound workouts, it’s time to mention the barbell bent over row. Simply bend your torso over and get lifting that barbell up.

What muscles are trained with the bent over row?

  • Your grip
  • Forearm muscles (dorsal, ventral)
  • Biceps
  • All of your back muscles (Rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi)

GET COMMITTED TO COMPOUND MOVEMENTS

We’ve given you the tools and guidance, so now it’s time to get started. Give one of our top compound exercises a try in the next week and don’t rush it. Why not partner up with a friend and conquer them together?

Get started with your bodyweight before introducing weights, as this will allow you to master the right form before adding extra pressure.

If you’re not feeling totally up for the gym just yet, try giving barbell movements a practice at home with a broomstick or something similar!

The most important thing when it comes to compound exercises such as squats, pull ups, bench press or deadlifts is your form. If you get started with a good habit, it’ll help your body’s movements when you introduce weight. Pick a compound exercise and get started!

And of course, if you’re looking for extra energy, focus and endurance, why not give BlackWolf a try?

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Charlie Meister

Charlie Meister

My name is Charlie Meister and I’m an online personal trainer and content creator. I’m currently 24 years old and I started working out when I was 16 back in high school because I hated the way I looked. I quickly fell in love with the growth and for the last 3 years now I’ve been a personal trainer. I spent the first year working in a gym in central London and now only do online personal training as the results my clients get are significantly better and I can work with anyone in the world.

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